Goodreads Growth Strategy – How To Launch and Grow Fast
Software engineer and voracious reader Otis Chandler launched Goodreads in 2006. What was the growth strategy Goodreads used to grow fast?
The site is now the leading online community for readers, but even in the first year it attracted 100,000 members for the simple reason that people who read books love to talk about books.
While that is market fit at its most simplistic, many bookcentric websites have failed. Goodreads did not thanks to Chandler’s acumen both as a bibliophile and a technocrat.
Goodread’s initial growth strategies included the development of a Facebook app… widgets for placements on blogs and websites, and integration with Twitter. Word of mouth, however, was key to the site’s long term success.
As Chandler himself said, “Reading may be a solitary activity, but what you’re reading and what you think of what you’re reading are ideas. And ideas are much better if they’re shared.”
That simple idea, that is the meeting place between reading and social networks was the magic ingredient, sharing — more specifically, creating the desire to share and providing the tools to do so effortlessly.
The site also immediately offered and gained targeted advertising from authors and publishers through a clever means of quantification. Users “shelved” books they had read and placed the ones they planned to get to on their “to read” lists. That activity was close enough to actual “intent to buy” to attract advertising revenue.
Simply plugging into the word of mouth that is an inherent part of any community of readers allowed Goodreads to expand to 16 million members by the time it was purchased by Amazon in March 2013.
By then, the site included reviews, book clubs, thriving discussion groups and threads, and even trivia games. Eleven months after the Amazon purchase, Goodreads had packed on another 4 million users thanks in large part to explosive mobile growth.
That’s not surprising since Amazon merged Goodreads participation into the interface of its popular Kindle line of readers. Within the text of a Kindle book, if a reader highlights a passage, they are prompted to share their “thought” on Goodreads, with options to also post to Twitter and Facebook.
At the end of the book, the reader is immediately prompted to rate the title on Goodreads and to post a review if they so desire. This integration eliminates the thought process, “I should go to Goodreads and post this,” which involves conscience effort. If the option is right there on the screen the chances for spontaneous activity on Goodreads is much higher – and it works.
Goodreads now has a repository of more than 25 million book reviews, which will no doubt expand rapidly thanks to the Kindle integration.
With so much information in one place and ease of mobile access, members can seek out opinions and recommendations about books they’re interested in purchasing while they’re standing in a bookstore.
This is an even more powerful driver for publishers and authors to buy advertising space on the site. Not surprisingly, Goodreads is considered one of the “go to” self-promotion venues for the rising class of self-published authors that are rapidly turning the book world on it sear.
As a voracious reader himself, Otis Chandler came into the development of Goodreads with an intuitive understanding of market fit bolstered by his tech acumen as a software engineer. The combination proved highly effective and made Goodreads a prime prospective partner for Amazon’s continuously evolving book/reader ecosystem.